Author Spotlight – Viola Rivard
My name is Viola Rivard and I will have been published three years in February. While many authors say they’ve been writing since they could hold a pen, that wasn’t the case for me. I grew up in a rural and impoverished mountain region of western Virginia and was often lectured for “wasting paper” when I tried to write recreationally. So instead, I created elaborate fantasy worlds in my mind. My schoolteachers often reported to my confused mother that I was severely antisocial, but in reality I often had more fun imagining adventures on the playground than playing with the mere mortals of my first grade class.
I was eleven and it was the year I got my first computer. Well, it was actually the family computer. It used dial-up and ran slow as molasses, but it got me on the internet and expanded my universe. It was then that I discovered fanfiction.net and, craftily disguised as fan fiction of popular television shows, I began to tell my stories to the world.
Much like many of my current readers don’t realize I’m in my mid-twenties, none of my fans back then knew that I was a pre-teen girl. My romance fan fiction became wildly popular and it was then that I realized I had a knack for telling a good story.
Sadly, being that I was a pre-teen girl, I was at the mercy of greater forces in the universe. Over the course of the next year, my family endured an upheaval and by the time the dust settled, I’d forgotten all about fan fiction and my writing became limited to the notes I could scribble down in my composition books during school hours.
Not long after graduating high school, I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent nearly two years of chemotherapy. While I could never downplay how difficult cancer is, I’d have to say that the hardest part of my life was the year and a half that followed treatment. During my treatment I accumulated a lot of debt and couldn’t afford to go back to school. I was forced to take a series of entry-level jobs that I was overqualified for and any creativity I had left in me was horribly stifled.
Even so, I did my best to stay positive. I’d beaten cancer and I came out of it with a wonderful husband. Did I mention that Mr. Rivard (who was then my boyfriend of six months) proposed to me the night I was diagnosed with a cancer so rare we couldn’t even Google it? Yep, he’s my soul mate.
My breaking point came in January of 2014. Our car had stopped working five months prior and we couldn’t afford a new one, so I was walking about four miles a day in the snow to get to and from work. Do any New Englanders remember the winter of 2013-2014? In a word, it was atrocious. Not surprisingly, I caught the flu and was out of work for a few days. When I came back, my manager told me that my sick days, even a doctor’s note, counted as absences and I was at risk of being fired. To his credit, he was very nice about it.
So the very next week, I trudged to work in a snowstorm. Around the time that the fourth coworker of mine drove past me, splashing cold, dirty slush on me, I looked up at the sky and said “something’s gotta give.” Did I beat cancer just so that I could settle for a life in which I was unhappy? So, I turned around, called out of work (hah!), went home, and began writing my first book, Claimed by the Alphas: Part One.
It was an idea I’d been bouncing around in my head for a while. I loved paranormal romance, but a lot of times the heroes seemed a little too perfect, almost like the author took two normal guys, excised all of their imperfections, and then stitched them together to make an unnervingly-flawless Franken-alpha. My idea was pretty simple. What if I took two sexy, but imperfect werewolves, and instead of creating a Twilight-esque love-triangle, make them share one lucky heroine in (almost) perfect harmony?
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought this was a good idea, because my very first book became a bestseller, and so did every book after that! A week after publishing, I handed in my notice at work. Don’t tell my boss, but everyone who was lucky enough to get me as their phone rep those two weeks had ALL of their absurdly overpriced late fees waived.
So fast forward to now, a couple of years later. My werewolf books are still selling like crazy and I have some pretty cool dragon books. I also hit New York Times and USA Today (with a bit of help from a lot of friends!) and I finally have a working car!
I hope my story is at least a little inspirational for anyone who’s waiting for their lucky break. Stop waiting and pursue your passion. People always say it’s never too late, I like to say it’s never too early. Oh, and check out my books, too. They’re pretty darn good, or so my fans tell me.